Thursday, 2 September 2010

Defending the NHS

A while ago, I talked about the government's new reshuffle of the NHS, and that whilst I had some small fears at the time I'd see how things went. You'll be glad to know, I've now made up my mind and am 100% against this 'white paper' because for me, it signals the start of a stealth privatisation of the NHS, and that can't be allowed to happen.

That's not just my view, but the view of the biggest health care union, UNISON, and the independent NHS Support Federation. Not to mention the private sector itself who described it as the 'start of the privatisation of the NHS'.

I'll forget for the moment that this signals the latest of David Cameron's broken promises, back in 2006 he categorically promised "no more pointless and disruptive reorganisations." It seems what you say in opposition means nothing once you get to the hallowed ground of power. I'll even ignore the fact that at a time when the poor are being hit hardest by Osborne's regressive budget and they have a belt-tightening mantra they are still able to squander away up to £3bn on this needless reshuffle. What I find worse than both of these is the fact that they're putting us onto a path where the NHS will be nothing more than a brand name, stripped of all that was once good.

They plan to hand over £80bn to GP consortia to use as they will within their area. Now, I have nothing against GP's, but I'd suggest they have better things to be getting on with than being accountants. Many already argue that the amount they do now in ordering services for patients through PBC is too much. You will immediately have a postcode lottery of health care. On top of that, you will have GP's, unable to be accountant's whilst caring for their patients, who have to buy in help from the likes of United Health. Then you have a case where private commissioners will be able to send patients to their privately run hospitals. That conflict of interest is the start of a very slippery slope indeed.

Then you have the quiet scandal that they are also pushing through competition laws into the NHS which will allow private providers a massive foothold. No longer will GPs and hospital doctors be allowed to discuss patient care without letting a private provider put in their twopence worth lest they be judged to be 'monopolising'. Care will stop being about the patient and start being about profits. You want to see where this road leads, look across the pond to America.

I'm not sure what it is about the Conservatives and the NHS. It's the jewel in the crown of British society, perhaps that's what they find so disconcerting. Whilst they have this belief that the private sector will turn everything to gold, the thing we love most isn't the CEO of Barclay's or the Taxpayers' Alliance, but a publicly funded, universal health care system. That's far too close to socialism for their liking, so they attack, and try to sneak in privatisation by the back door.

It started, unfortunately, under New Labour with it's PFI's, but this is a far more drastic step towards giving private providers control of public money. The Tory's conveniently forget that the NHS is rated as the most efficient health care system in the commonwealth, and forget the drastic cuts to waiting times. Instead, they focus on introducing market forces where they aren't wanted.

Market force's have their place. They are good at their job, namely making money. They are successful because above all else they place profit, all other outcomes are secondary to that main objective. In some place's, that lack of heart for anything other than money just isn't appropriate. In our schools, in our police, and most definitely, in our health care.

It may sound like I'm being a little dramatic, but I've been looking forward to qualifying and being a doctor in one of the best health care systems in the world. One that I can be proud to work in because I know it treats all patients as equal, no matter who they are or what they can afford.

I don't want that future ruined by the lunacy of Andrew Lansley and David Cameron.


Liam said...

Hahaha, God I'll be back.

Chris said...

Good, I'm running amock around here aha :)